IOWA LEGISLATURE

Deployments increasing, National Guard leader tells Iowa lawmakers

Adjutant general also says some smaller facilities could close

Prairie High School students look at an excavator used by the Iowa National Guard during a 2018 career exploration day a
Prairie High School students look at an excavator used by the Iowa National Guard during a 2018 career exploration day at the Armed Forces Readiness Center in Cedar Rapids. The Guard’s adjutant general told Iowa lawmakers Thursday that he is looking at closing “a couple” of Guard facilities in smaller Iowa communities. (The Gazette)
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DES MOINES — The number of Iowa National Guard soldiers deployed is expected to rise from roughly 100 to more than 2,000 over the next year, its leader said Thursday during the annual Condition of the Guard address to the Iowa Legislature.

Maj. Gen. Ben Corell, adjutant general of the Iowa National Guard, said the expected jump in deployments is part of a natural, cyclical ebb and flow, not a direct response to recent military actions between the U.S. and Iran in the Middle East.

“It’s nothing to do with the current situation that’s going on within central command area of operations. This was scheduled. It was planned,” Corell, a native of Strawberry Point, told reporters after the address.

Corell said he expects the Iowa National Guard’s 2nd Infantry Brigade, based in Boone, to be deployed. The unit went to Afghanistan in 2010.

Gov. Kim Reynolds appointed Corell adjutant general in August after the retirement of Maj. Gen. Timothy Orr, who served in the post 10 years and in the Guard 40 years.

During Thursday’s address, Corell introduced himself to state lawmakers as a northeast Iowa native with an extensive military family — his grandfather and father served in the Marines and his three sons are Guard members.

Corell has been in the National Guard for 34 years.

He said he enlisted “for extra money and benefits” but stayed because he found “purpose and meaning in service above one’s self.”

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Corell also described his plan to review the Guard’s infrastructure and personnel levels to determine if some facilities should be closed.

Some facilities, he said, are in areas where population has shrunk and there is not a sufficient workforce.

“The Guard was built on local communities, and the local communities today, there are populations that have shifted,” Corell said. “Many times people who leave those small communities, they go to college, they go to where they can get a good job, a high-paying job, and most of those are in metropolitan areas. And that’s the reality that I face as I look at it.

“I can’t continue to have quality infrastructure where I’m pouring tax dollars from federal and state funds into a facility that I can’t keep manned because I can’t recruit from the local area because the pool of people just doesn’t exist.”

Corell did not say how many facilities or which ones he has in mind for possible closure, other than it likely will be “a couple” over time.

Comments: (563) 383-2492; erin.murphy@lee.net

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